Posted by: Shauna Farnell
Whether you are a well-practiced human pretzel or a total newbie, yoga pros emphasize that each session is all about you and feeling better about yourself
You often hear about how practicing yoga can lead to physical transformation – how it can make a person stronger, leaner, more flexible, more supple or even a few centimeters taller.
For Julie Kiddoo, yoga has been the gateway to physical enrichment – yes – but also her personal path to mental and emotional salvation.
“The biggest takeaway is my ability to shift my perspective of myself. I was labeled ‘bipolar’ when I was 15, I felt a lot of shame and embarrassment about that. When I started yoga, the physical practice was transformative. It helped my body get stronger, but it also helped me work through all of that. It made me feel empowered,” says Kiddoo, owner of Revolution Power Yoga in Avon and author of “Bye-Polar: A Journey of Resilience, Power & Freedom.”
Every single time Kiddoo gets on her mat, she is able to rediscover that feeling of empowerment.
“I’ve been doing yoga for a while, but you don’t have to be doing it forever. The shift could literally happen in a pose or a breath. It’s like when all the teeth of a zipper go together,” she says. “It’s a sensation that happens in the moment. It can be as simple as setting your eyes or setting your breath, being in the present. Sometimes it happens more in people who are newer in the practice.”
Kiddoo is teaming up with fellow Revolution yogi Emily Selonick for Sunday morning’s Elevate Your Flow session.
A ski patroller and former competitive runner, Selonick says yoga has helped her alleviate chronic pain she’d developed from such a physically demanding lifestyle, gain flexibility and strength. Like Kiddoo, for her it has also instilled a new sense of mental strength.
“Sometimes it looks like shifting my mood or clearing my head about a big decision. It could be just finding some calm and peace,” Selonick says. “I always leave yoga feeling refreshed and like something has shifted for me, whether I know exactly what that is or not. Before yoga I can feel worried, tight, stressed and afterwards I feel lighter, more confident and peaceful.”
Bobby L’Heureux, who’s teaching a 90-minute Thursday happy hour class with his wife Kim Fuller, discovers fresh forms of transformation each session, even after more than 10 years of practice and instruction.
“For me, the ultimate satisfaction continues to evolve with my practice. I used to want to be able to do every pose and hold a handstand. Now I hope to keep my breathing through an entire class, creating a deep savasana,” he says. “My practice now is for my mind and body to be as balanced as possible. Yoga allows me to get out of the thinking mind and into my seated self. I become the observer of my thoughts rather than them controlling my actions.”
All of the Mountain Games yoga instructors emphasize that their classes – held outdoors on the lawn at Ford Park – are for all levels and aim to meet individuals where they are, whether they can hold a 10-minute handstand or cannot so much as bend forward to touch their toes.
“The biggest barriers are people being self-conscious,” Kiddoo says. “They’ll say, I’m not flexible, or, it’s too hard. Now more than ever, we want people to have a place away from work and home where they feel welcome regardless of size, shape and ability. Even though yoga is done in a group setting, the experience is individual.”
L’Heureux believes that balancing the ego is a big part of his ongoing yoga practice and Selonick says it’s especially important for beginners to come into a session knowing the goal is to focus solely on themselves and not what’s happening around them.
“The greatest barrier people face when practicing yoga is comparison to others,” Selonick says. “In a yoga class, people are really not looking at you, so just do your own thing on your mat and you will get exactly what you need from the practice. Your practice is your own, and whatever you can do is perfect on that given day.”
Outdoor yoga sessions are available at the Mountain Games on Thursday evening, Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings. There is no day-of or walk-in signup. Find more information and register here.
2021 GoPro Mountain Games Yoga Lineup
- Thursday, June 10: Apres-Adventure with Yoga + Life (Happy Hour Flow)
- Friday, June 11: Yoga + Beats with Yvonne & Kirby K
- Saturday, June 12: Yoga with Arielle Shipe
- Sunday, June 13: Elevate Your Flow with Julie Kiddoo & Emily Selonick
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